Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has expressed regret over anti-India comments he made to former US President Richard Nixon.
Mr Kissinger now says Indira Gandhi was a 'great leader'
"The Indians are bastards," Mr Kissinger said shortly before the India-Pakistan war of 1971, it was revealed this week.
Mr Kissinger also called former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi a "bitch" during the conversation.
At the time, the US saw India as too close to the Soviet Union.
The conversation was revealed in documents the US State Department declassified this month on US foreign policy of the time.
According to the documents, President Nixon called Indira Gandhi an "old witch" in a conversation with Mr Kissinger.
Mr Kissinger, 82, has now told a the private Indian television channel NDTV that his comments did not reflect American policy during the 1970s.
"I regret that these words were used. I have extremely high regard for Mrs Gandhi as a statesman," he said.
CONVERSATION: MAY 26, 1971
Kissinger: They are the most aggressive goddamn people around there
Nixon: The Indians?
"The fact that we were at cross purposes at that time was inherent in the situation but she was a great leader who did great things for her country."
One key conversation transcript comes from the meeting between President Nixon and Mr Kissinger in the White House on 5 November 1971, shortly after a meeting with the visiting Indira Gandhi.
"We really slobbered over the old witch," says President Nixon.
Kissinger and Nixon opposed an independent Bangladesh
"The Indians are bastards anyway," says Mr Kissinger. "They are starting a war there."
He adds: "While she was a bitch, we got what we wanted too. She will not be able to go home and say that the United States didn't give her a warm reception and therefore in despair she's got to go to war.
Mr Kissinger told NDTV that this was not a "formal conversation".
"This was somebody letting off steam at the end of a meeting in which both President Nixon and I were emphasising that we had gone out of our way to treat Mrs Gandhi very cordially," he said.
"There was disappointment at the results of the meeting. The language was Nixon language."
Relations between India and US have strengthened since Mr Kissinger's days.
"The US recognises that India is a global power, that is a strategic partner of the US on the big issues," Mr Kissinger said.
Indira Gandhi sought stronger links with the Soviet Union
However, President Nixon and Mr Kissinger's remarks have angered India's ruling Congress party.
"It is shocking that the head of state of a country and his principal adviser chose to use such intemperate language against a popularly elected prime minister of another country," party spokesman Anand Sharma said.
"These words have no relevance today... we hope the present US leader also rejects these remarks which were definitely in very poor taste."